How to Write a Cover Letter for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. Stand out in your job search!
By Author Jeni Page, ACNP-BC, MSN, RNFA, CCRN
Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC
A cover letter is an essential step in any job search—important in specifying the role of interest, defining your qualifications, and highlighting your skillset.
Though not always required, including a cover letter in your application is beneficial in providing recruiters further insight into your professional capabilities and reasons for interest, beyond what can simply be listed in a resume.
What is a PA or NP cover letter?
A cover letter for Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants or any advanced practice job is your chance to give a concise introduction of yourself to a job recruiter. It highlights your background, qualifications, and how you plan to effectively fulfill the job role.
While a resume can provide a synopsis of your education, training, and job experience, a cover letter is the opportunity to connect with the hiring manager and tell your story. It’s your opportunity to showcase how you can fill the job need best. On a basic level, a resume is itemized facts, whereas a cover letter can show specifically why you are interested in the role and why you are the best fit for that organization.
As a result, when a candidate includes a cover letter in their application, they have the capacity to separate themselves from other candidates, defining why they should be considered and accentuating qualities that are unique and desired. Against a stack of qualified applicants, your cover letter may just be the key ingredient to help you stand out.
A cover letter is your first introduction to the desired position by way of the reviewing recruiter. Addressing the recruiter and company directly demonstrates your aspiration for the role and adds a degree of personalization to an otherwise formal letter. The short and concise introduction also allows you to specify the exact job role you are interested in and your qualifications. It gives you the opportunity to connect with the search committee by highlighting your understanding of the organization and why you would be a good fit.
The letter should highlight critical elements of your background, training, and job experience that align with the role, according to the job description and your understanding of the role. The goal of a cover letter is to define the skill set you developed from an array of experiences that make you the better-qualified candidate. Furthermore, highlighting professional abilities helps distinguish you from other similar candidates.
A cover letter is also an excellent place to state your passion for the role. Though it should be brief, showing enthusiasm about the position and the organization is a selling point, and important characteristic recruiters look for in prospective candidates. It should be tailored to the specific role you are applying to, with personalization of the letter to the particular needs of the position. Beware of submitting cover letters that are too generic and appear templated. While recruiters understand that prospective applicants may be applying to multiple places, your cover letter should come across as very specific to the particular institution and described the role.
Lastly, cover letters should be brief, containing only one to two paragraphs that appropriately define your interest, and should be written in business letter format. The letter should be thoroughly reviewed for spelling, grammar, and organization.
While a cover letter may seem tedious and sometimes repetitive to your resume contents, it is an important step in the job application process. A cover letter can synthesize what makes you the best candidate, highlighting the skills that are imperative for the desired job and summarizing how well fit well you are for the role. Without inflation or detailed elaboration, a cover letter is your brief moment to professionally sell yourself, potentially open the door to an interview, and ultimately your first opportunity to prove yourself at a new company.
8 Key Elements to include in your NP or PA Cover letter
- Identify the hiring manager Dear ____(name)_________
- Your introductory paragraph should identify your interest and job by position title, including why the organization and role are an exciting opportunity for you. Do your research on the job, unit, or clinic and people. Identify what catches your attention.
- Us a professional, yet friendly tone.
- Paragraph two should focus on the job duties and how your career matches what they are looking for according to their job description. Highlight a few key skills and accomplishments in order to match the role with your passion and experience. This can include relevant information such as leadership skills, program development, and committees.
- In your closing paragraph concisely summarize what you like about the opportunity and your interest. Reference your attached resume by name. Enthusiastically close your cover letter with confidence including a thank you and next steps, like, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
- If you have frequent job changes or gaps explain them in 1-2 sentences.
- Aim to write a clear message that is easy to read and follow, is visually organized, briefly highlights your essential points, and reveals some of your own voice and character.
- End with your signature, including credentials, email, and phone number.
Five tips for writing an effective nursing cover letter. Onward Health. https://www.onwardhealthcare.com/nursing-resources/5-tips-for-writing-an-effective-nursing-cover-letter/ Accessed December 1, 2019.
How to write a cover letter. Glassdoor website. https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/ Accessed December 1, 2019.
Job hunting: The real value of a cover letter. CBS News. 2013. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/job-hunting-the-real-value-of-a-cover-letter/ Accessed December 1, 2019.
Why Cover Letters are Important for Job Seekers. LiveCareer. https://www.livecareer.com/resources/cover-letters/basics/cover-letter Accessed December 1, 2019.
Jeni Page trained in acute care and chronic disease management, Jeni is an acute care nurse practitioner with an extensive background in internal medicine, as well as multiple sub-specialties. Her current area of practice involves inpatient, perioperative, and outpatient clinical practice. Experienced in medical-legal research review, analysis, and explanation, her background has assisted with the development and defense in both individual practices and hospital-based systems. Additionally, Jeni has ten years of experience in administrative work, as well as having an equal passion for education and research, with multiple medical publications and education development.